Profile of the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego

Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, CA
Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, CA. Image courtesy MOPA.


The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in San Diego, California officially opened to the public in 1983.

The Museum is one of the first museums in the US to be devoted to the display of photographic art and has a permanent collection of over 7,000 images dating from the 19th century to today.


The Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, CA began in 1972 as a "museum without walls." The City of San Diego provided a 7,000-square-foot facility in the Casa de Balboa Building in Balboa Park to house the museum's collection, and the MOPA officially opened in 1983.

In March 2000, the Museum reopened after a lengthy one-year renovation which expanded the site to 32,000 square feet and included a 226-seat theater, a classroom, archival facilities. In 2006, a library containing 20,000 publications on photography opened.

The Museum curates 8 to 10 photographic exhibitions annually, and has published 25 catalogs.



The Museum's mission, according to their website:

" to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection and preservation of photography, film and video."


The Museum of Photographic Arts is located in Balboa Park in the Casa de Balboa building in San Diego, California.

Please refer to the museum's website for directions and further information.

Museum's Conservation Department:

The Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, CA has a permanent collection, which require the services of an art conservator to preserve and restore the photographic works.

To learn more about the field of art conservation, please see interviews with conservators.

Famed Artworks in Collection:

The Museum of Photographic Arts' permanent collection include works by renowned art historical  photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Eugene Atget, Julia Margaret Cameron, Paul Strand, Berenice Abbott, Weegee, Lisette Model, Dorothea Lange, André Kertész, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Latin American artists such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, Alberto Korda, Sebastião Salgado are well represented in the collection, while photojournalism and social documentary work is represented by photographers such as W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, and Susan Meiselas.

The collection includes various types of styles and techniques, such as early 19th century daguerreotypes and albumen prints. The collection is" particularly strong in mid-twentieth century Soviet Russian photography, and social documentary photography and photojournalism."

Noteworthy Facts:

Artist's Submissions

Artists are invited to submit work for review. Please be sure to research the collection and previous exhibitions to make sure your work fits in within the Museum's vision.

Portfolios can be submitted by email to Please refer to the museum's website for a detailed list of submission requirements.

Employment Information:

The Museum posts employment and volunteer opportunities on its website, in the various departments such as administrative, curatorial, collections, exhibitions, marketing, sales, and security. 

How to Apply for a Job:

Applicants can submit their resumes and cover letters for the positions in which they qualify.

Please refer to MOPA's website for further information.

Museum's Contact Info:

    Museum of Photographic Arts, 1649 El Prado San Diego, CA 92101. Tel: 619.238.7559.


    Museum of Photographic Arts' website

    Museum Hours:

    • Monday closed
    • Tuesday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
    • Wednesday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
    • Thursday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
    • Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
    • Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
    • Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
    • Closed holidays
    • Summer Hours:
      Thursday: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm, June - Sept.